Reflections on my experience as Chair of the ABP, by Clodagh O'Reilly


Clodagh O'Reilly
When I first joined the management board of the Association for Business Psychology (the Association of Business Psychologists, as it was known then), I had no particular ideas about how I might make a contribution. But I was delighted to have a chance to do so because being a member of the Association has meant a lot to me over the years.

It has afforded me the opportunity to participate in career enhancing training, events and conferences and to establish a network of contacts that have subsequently become my suppliers, clients, team members and friends.

Whilst I’ve been on the board, most recently as Chair, we have continued to pursue the Association’s primary objective: championing business psychology. As board members, we’re proud to do work that focuses on ‘improving working lives’ and we want to offer this opportunity to as many as have an interest in applying psychology in this way. So we’re always true to the Association’s values of accessibility and inclusion whilst seeking to create a greater awareness of the value of business psychology.

For my part, I pursued an agenda of operational efficiency first, then growth and finally consolidation. Growing our reputation and impact included, for example, the introduction of regular practitioner training courses, commissioning the book ‘Business Psychology in Action’ and creating the Workforce Experience Awards programme. I am confident that great progress has been made, although I remain aware that there is a long path ahead.

We’ve achieved a lot, but not as much as the likes of the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology in setting standards of practice. We have however started on a path that will set accessible, practical and meaningful examples of what good looks like, thereby creating a foundation for setting standards in our industry in the not too distant future. (The board has committed to establishing a means to ‘accredit’ practitioners that will rival the DOP’s Chartership and I’m confident that these will be realised in the coming years).

Practitioner, both psychologists and non-psychologists, who participate in the ABP Workforce Experience Awards programme demonstrate measurable outcomes of their work so we know it is strengthening the practice and raising the standards of business psychology in the UK. (Read more in the Awards book, available on Kindle/Kindle app: ‘Delivering Excellent Workforce Experiences.’ It includes over 40 case studies that show how practically applying psychology at work can improve working lives.) A few of our conference keynotes have been recorded in the past and recently our speakers have been invited to offer articles for the ABP website that record their insights. More could be done to create transferable educational content from the ABP’s training courses too and a wider range of conference speakers. I suggest this remain a priority for of the management board.

I know the ABP will continue to promote the use of psychology to improve working lives as an aspiration for all professionals; most especially those who are responsible for employees’ assessment, selection, learning, development, performance and growth. There are relatively few qualified occupational psychologists available to demonstrate the true value of psychology to organisations in a way that will improve everyday working lives for everybody in this country. Using these qualified psychologists to disseminate best practice to other people, who have an interest in applying psychology in their work, is far more likely to gain value and deliver value in our country.

So it is not incidental that we have recruited new members for the management board who have exceptional commercial and psychological credentials. Individuals to contribute challenge our assumptions about our market and a future in an interest to establishing an ever more strongly. And I’m heartened to know I leave behind a management board that are committed, professional and eager to continue to add value to our members and our industry. To them I say: don’t underestimate your potential to have an impact on our industry and, ultimately, on every worker’s life in this country – but that won’t happen by a single bold act. It will happen through sustained incremental impact on the variables in the ecosystem. (See: http://youtu.be/ysa5OBhXz-Q).

Clodagh,

Former Chair of the ABP